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and why are we not now both together, in the same burning lake!"
Abel. “There is my brother Cain, for ever lost. O, the sovereign grace of God to me!”
No A H. . “ There are the inhabitants of the old world. They filled the earth with violence; were deaf to all the warnings of a long-suffering God; were destroyed in the general deluge : now weltering in the burning lake. O, the sovereign grace of God to me! Saved then in the ark; safe now in Christ."
ABRAHAM. “Such an universal deluge, such a dreadful destruction, one would have thought would never have been forgotten. But no sooner did mankind increase, but they turned their backs on God; and, in a few ages, all began to sink into idolatry. Then was I born in Ur of the Chaldees, where I might have lived and died estranged from God, and been now among the damned, had not God, of his sovereign grace, visited my soul, and called me from the idols of my native land. But, behold, now here I am, and here is Isaac, my son, and Jacob, my grandson, and thousands of my posterity in glory! Everlasting praise is due to free and sovereign grace."
St. PETER. “Yonder, in that lake of fire and brimstone, is Judas the traitor, once a follower of Christ, now doomed to endless wo. Oh, never shall I forget the black and gloomy night, when I cursed and swore, I know not the man, my blessed master! Nor shall I ever forget the kind look which brought me to repentance. Nor shall I ever cease to adore sovereign distinguishing grace, but for which I had now been with Judas in the burning lake.”
St. PAUL. “ But of all the saved, no instance of sovereign grace, like me* ! Once a persecutor and a blaspemer.
Sovereign; not because God acted absolutely without any reason at all, in converting a persecuting Saul, who was the worst of the two, and passing by the young man in the gospel; for infinite wisdom always acts on the highest and best reason ; but because Saul was not chosen for his goodness, being the chief of sinners. 1. Tim. i. 15 ; yet God had wise ends in his choice. (See verse 16.) As no doubt he always has, although, in innumerable cases, they are absolutely be. yond our reach. God has a right in this case, as the great Sovereign of the ani.
Never shall I forget the day I set out for Damascus, breathing forth threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the holy Jesus. But, O, the grace, the sovereign grace of God, that stopped me in my career ; sent me to carry the glad tidings of salvation to the Gentiles, and gave me thousands to be my joy and crown of rejoicing, as it is this day !"
St. Paul's Converts. “Once we were dead in trespasses and sins, buried in heathenish darkness, and even under the full power of the prince of darkness; and might now have been with him in wo. But, O, the sovereign grace of God to us, who sent his chosen vessel, and called us out of darkness into marvellous light, and now hath brought us to this world! Eternal praises to the Lord.”
[Thousands and millions will speak the same language, and all join to prostrate themselves before the throne, and give all the glory and praise of their salvation to God and te the Lamb. And with the most fervent love and gratitude, attended with the deepest humility and reverence, devote themselves to God, through Jesus Christ, "for ever and ever. And while all this is observed, very natural'must the following reflections be :]
GABRIEL. “How is satan disappointed in every respect ! And heaven become a more glorious and happy place than ever it was! I remember when there was nothing but love, order, and harmony, in heaven and earth. I remember when satan, a glorious, archangel, first broke order in heaven, rose up in rebellion againsnt the ALMIGHTY, and how he carried the infection down to earth. And I remember the horrible tragedies he has acted over, from age, to age, at the head of the powers of darkness, ruling in the children of disobedience, and filling the world of mankind with sin and wo; and the mighty opposition he has constantly made against the interest and kingdom of the Messiah ; sometimes as a red dragon, thinking by fire and sword to bear down all before him ; and then, as an angel of light, spreading delusions far and wide, not caring what shapes he put on, if, by any verse, to do as he pleases. But he always does what is wisest to be done. His sovereignty is a wise and holy sovereignty, and an infinitely amiable part of his moral character. It is “God's glory." (Exod. xxxiii. 18, 19.)
means, he might attain his ends. But now his day is over; his designs are frustrated, his expectations disappointed, and his kingdoin ruined. And, behold, yonder lies the monster chained in that burning lake, now the only place of his everlasting abode, weltering in horror, rage, and dreadful despair !
“ If he hoped to bring our glorious monarch into contempt in his dominions, among his creatures, he is disappointed ; for God is more loved, honoured, revered, extolled, and praised, than if these things had never happened. If he hoped to lessen bis authority, and bring his law into contempt, that it should be looked upon a light matter to transgress, he is in this also disappointed; for never would it have appeared so infinitely heinous, and so shoekingly dreadful a thing to transgress, if these things had never happened. Or if he hoped, at least, that the execution of divine vengeance would lessen the manifestations of divine goodness, and dininish the happiness of the intellectual system, he is also disappointed in this ; for God has shown his wrath in such a manner as to render the riches of his glorious grace infinitely the more conspicuous in the sight of all the inhabitants of heaven; and their love and joy arise unspeakably higher than if these things had neve happened. Yea, all things bave worked for good, and turned out well. His pride bas been the means of a great increase of humility among finite intelligences, as it has led them to see what they might have come to if left of God. His fall has been the means of our confirmation; bis ingratitude, of our being for ever the more sensible of the rich goodness of God; his setting up to be independent, the means to bring us to a more absolute and entire dependance on God, the only iminutable being; and bis aiming at supremacy, seducing mankind, and raising all this confusion in the system, has occasioned the ALMIGHTY to assert his supremaey, and set his own Son at the head of the creation, and in him to bring all things to an everlasting establishment, in a way most honourable to God, and the most advantageous to the system. So that he is disappointed in every respect. He meant all for edil; but lo, God meant all for good, to bring to pass as it is at this day.
* So all his successes have now at last ended in the eternal ruin of his cause; and his triumph, in eternal despair of ever again lifting up his head. And all the mischief he hath wrought, hath in fact brought down a ten-fold vengeance on himself, in yon lake of fire and brimstone, where he is doomed to lie, weltering under divine wrath, through endless ages, to exhibit to the view of all intelligences the evil nature and dreadful consequences of rebellion. Meanwhile, God and his Messiah reign, and will for ever reign. And thus the seed of the woman hath bruised the serpent's head. AMEN. HALLELUJAH."
Such will be the reflections of angels and saints after the day of judgment, when they have seen God's grand plan finished, and from those celestial regions look back and review the whole.
And now, who can doubt but that the humility, holiness, and happiness of the saved will be much greater, perhaps a thousand times, perhaps ten thousand times greater, than if these things had never happened? And how know we, therefore, that there may on the present plan, more honour redound to God, and more good to the system, on the whole, than if sin and misery bad been for ever unknown; yea, almost infinitely more* ?
Objection. “ But was there no other way in which God could bave made angels and men as boly and happy without the permission of siu ?
Answer. No! Not if there were no other way in which he could so clearly and fully manifest, and so advantageously communicate himself to his creatures as this : for his creatures can neither be holy nor happy, but in the knowledge and enjoyment of him. Now, if I am not able to prove there was no way, yet the objector cannot possibly contrive a way in which God could have given such clear and full manifestations of himself, and communicate good to his creatures in
The computations in page 67 are sufficient to clear the point. If but two. thirds of mankind should be saved, and their happiness be increased but an hundred fold, considering the greatness of their number, the overplus happiness in the whole must be millions of millions of millions of degrees; as any may see by caleutation. VOL 11.
every respect so advantageously, sin and inisery being for ever unknown, as he has, and will, upon the present plan : so that. for aught the objector or I know, this, of all possible plans, may be the best contrived to give a full and clear manifestation of the Deity, and raise intelligences to the highest pitch of moral perfection and happiness. And its being chosen by infinite wisdom, before all others, demonstrates that this is actually the case.
Thus then stands the argument. God's permitting Joseph to be sold into Egypt in the manner he was, of all other methods, was, as things were circumstanced, the best calculated to answer the noble ends God had in view ; at least so far as we can see; and God's actually choosing that method, demonstrates it was actually the best ; infinite wisdom being judge. So here, God's laying out the present plan, is of all possible methods the best to answer the noble ends God has in view ; at least so far as we can see : and God's choosing this, before all others, demonstrates that this is actually the case; infinite wisdom being judge.
Obj. “ But if we grant this to be the best method to accomplish the ends God had in view, and grant his ends are ever so noble and glorious; yet how could it be right for him to do evil, that good might come ?”
Ans. 1. As God was not obliged to interpose and binder Joseph's being sold; so his not interposing cannot be called dning evil. And God's not bindering the apostacy of angels and men, can io no sense be called doing evil that good might come : unless we can first prove that he was bound to hinder them. And let this once be proved, the consequence will be, if any of God's creatures and subjects, at any time, sin, then God must bear the blame. And so not the creature, but the Creator, will be under bonds.
2. In some cases, even we ourselves have a right, in a sense, to permit sin, and may act wisely in doing so, as common sense teaches all mankind. Thus, a wise and good master, who has a very lazy, unfaithful, deceitful servant, whom he often catches at play when he ought to be at his work, and whose manner is to lie himself clear, if he possibly can, may, upon a time, if he pleases, unseen by his servant, stand an